Keeping Rituals During this Time of Uncertainty

During this time of uncertainty, it is extremely important that we keep a sense of normalcy however we can. Easter just passed and Mother’s Day was yesterday! The traditions that make these holidays special went out the window, and with it came sadness and grief as we missed being with family and friends.

Physical Distance Won’t Keep Us Apart

However, the physical distance doesn’t have to keep us apart. More than that, this is a time to take stock of the traditions and rituals that help keep you feeling normal, grounded, and human. Here are some ideas:

Morning Rituals: Whether you’re in quarantine or still going about your semi-normal routine outside of the home (my own husband is one of them), do all the things you would normally do. Take a shower, fix your hair, change your clothes, and spritz some smell-good something on your neck. Kiss your kids, hug your partner, and remind yourself that today is going to be a glorious day. 

Mealtimes: Have at least one meal with the family. Sit together at the table, add some pretty placemats, and take time to check in with everyone. (Here’s a tip: My family uses these Table Topics cards. It’s easy to pull one and start a conversation. Even my teenagers like them!). 

Stress-Reducing Conversations: I often ask the couples I see in my private practice to have a 20-minute stress-reducing conversation each evening. That is, sit with each other without distractions and talk about the events of the day. No television, no phones, and no kids (this is the tricky one!). Just you, your partner, and some great conversation. You don’t have to go deep. You just have to be present. 

Celebrations: Your child finished all their assignments for the day, you finally have a clean bathroom, all the laundry is folded (or at least washed, how about that?), or it’s someone’s birthday? Time to celebrate! Make a special meal, dance together in the living room, play a board game, have cake, video call your family and friends! Celebrations are about gathering with the people you love for special occasions, and it’s possible to do this while in isolation. It isn’t all the things that make it special. It’s you!

Entertainment: There is a lot to do at home, you’re finding that out. Have a family movie night. Have a couple’s movie date night! Make popcorn, add in some M&Ms, and have some fun family time. Or, put the kids to bed and cuddle with your partner while having an adult beverage.

Engaging with Nature: Mucho importante! Take walks around the block, ride your bike, choose a yoga video on Roku or TiVo, or load up your favorite app on the phone. I highly suggest you go outdoors and breathe in the fresh, clean air. Go to a green space. Go sit at the local park. Some of my clients are even doing their video appointments while sitting in their car, at a local park, so they can get away from family and have their counseling session while looking at nature. Movement is so important, but moving in nature is even better. Go outside!

Bedtimes: Do what you’ve always done, and what feels comforting for the kids and the whole family. We all need the cuddles, this is a time to have some extra. Physical affection is comforting and helps reduce irritability and tension. Just hold each other (all of you—the whole family!). Keep to your routine: brush teeth, read a book, and tell some make-believe tales.

This is the New Normal (And It’s Good!)

The depression, anxiety, and fear may be setting in now, so it’s time to connect with what nourishes your soul at a much deeper level. Think about what makes you feel grounded, sane, and connected. Being alone, being with people, continuing your routines, and finding a new normal. These are all important things to consider in this new way of life.

This time will be unforgettable, but let’s make sure there are positive changes now. It’s absolutely a possibility to make this time about health and wellness as opposed to engaging in the things that we cannot control. You got this, Mama! Hang in there. 

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan
Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer is a mom of twins who are sweet as sugar, but just hit that tween stage so all bets are off. Her youngest is...a joy. Let's just stop there. Most days you can find her in her office seeing clients, doing laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives of (Insert City Here), Walking Dead or This Is Us. She is a tree-hugging country girl from West Texas who reads, writes, and teaches about human development and families as a hobby and profession. You can read more from Jennifer at her therapy blog, ichoosechange.com